IBM expands direct-order PC offering

IBM expands direct-order PC offering

IBM is doubling to 18 the number of PC models that will be available under its buy-today-ship-today program.

Under this program, IBM in the US ships certain PC models on the same day for customers who place their orders by 3:00pm either via phone or the web.

Big Blue will include more models of its ThinkPad notebook computers, Aptiva desktop PCs and its IntelliStation workstations under the expanded program, an IBM spokeswoman said.

The latest move is part of IBM's efforts to expand the number of PCs it sells directly to consumers and corporate customers, the spokeswoman added.

Over the past few months, IBM has been trying to make it easier for its largest accounts to buy equipment from it using dedicated extranet links. To date, IBM has set up extranet connections with 400 customer locations worldwide, the spokeswoman said.

Starting next week, IBM will also make available a dedicated technical support person to help such companies with the purchase process. In addition, IBM is continuing to move to a completely build-to-order manufacturing model.

Roughly 14 per cent of IBM's Personal Systems Group revenues are generated through direct sales. Meanwhile, some 70 per cent of that group's sales are made through channel partners while IBM's own sales force accounts for the rest.

To buttress its efforts, IBM has just launched an aggressive new advertising campaign to attract customers to the company's direct sales purchase options.

IBM's efforts are similar to those by other major system vendors who are trying to emulate Dell's successful direct sales model. Compaq, for instance, has long been trying to move the bulk of its sales away from its vast channel base to direct sales.

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